It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S. next week, that means it’s back to basics time! If you’re a food addict who’s in recovery, take a few minutes to remember how confused you were in the beginning. Think about how many diets and weight loss methods you tried. Remember the humiliation you felt each time something didn’t work.
And, most importantly, remember how incredibly relieved you felt once your ideas about overeating SHiFTed to include the concept of food addiction.
What is a food addict?
How do I know if I am a food addict?
If I am a food addict, how do I get help?
All of these questions were answered within a few hours of your first Acorn Intensive and even though you didn’t know it at the time, your life would change forever.
If you haven’t yet found recovery and don’t know exactly what a food addict is, I invite you to sign up for our newsletter. When you do, you’ll be given three links to videos that describe the differences between a normal eater who is overweight, an emotional eater, and a food addict.
If you’re already a subscriber to our newsletter and are interested in seeing the videos, like us on Facebook. We’ll be posting the video there at the end of the month.
Wherever you are in your recovery journey, I wish you the peace of knowing how to SHiFT your ideas about overeating to include food addiction.
For food addicts in recovery, remembering where they came from is an important relapse prevention technique. Thinking about how demoralizing it felt to run to the refrigerator every few minutes to eat is sometimes all the motivation a recovering food addict needs to continue in recovery.
During emotionally-challenging times, it may take a little more remembering to prevent a relapse. This can almost always be done by reviewing a first step writing or taking a few minutes to journal about the food addict’s last binge, specifically what it felt like before, during and after bingeing.
Many recovering food addicts find that thinking about the negative feelings around bingeing reminds them of exactly the reasons why they never want to experience overeating again. For others, it can be remembering the physical consequences associated with being overweight that puts them back on track.
To begin, it’s helpful to make a list of the physical consequences of food addiction. Questions such as: How did it feel to walk up a flight of stairs when I was overweight? How was my health affected from being overweight? What was it like to wear clothes that were too tight? Did my energy level allow me to do the things I wanted to? If not, how did that feel?
Preventing a relapse is far easier than working to find recovery again. At SHiFT, we witness each day how much more difficult it is to come back from a relapse than it is to prevent one.
Take a few minutes to think about these questions as a way to help you maintain a strong recovery and prevent a relapse.
Before recovery, most food addicts were overwhelmed by thoughts of food and eating. Entire days were lost to thinking about bingeing. In recovery, food addicts almost always discover that they have a lot more free time. While some of this time is used to create new behaviors – attending support group meetings, preparing and shopping for abstinent food and things like that – there’s also more free time for connecting with friends and loved ones.
For me, that means spending more time with my niece Georgia – that’s us together in the photo above. Not only do I appreciate being with her even more now that I’m abstinent, more importantly, I can be present in her life. Once in recovery, many food addicts discover that even though they were physically next to a person, they were so preoccupied with thinking about food when they were in their disease that they were unable to spend quality time with anyone.
Being present in someone’s life can be something as simple as listening rather than thinking about what you’ll say next or letting things happen spontaneously in the moment rather than trying to control them.
This upcoming week, take a few minutes to practice being present in life, first with yourself then with your loved ones. Enjoy the good feelings that come with that!
I’m thinking about beauty this week…and I don’t mean the physical appearance type. I mean the beauty that takes place in nature at this time of the year. I recently returned home to Vancouver after being away at our Orlando Acorn Primary Intensive and I was once again reminded of how beautiful this time of the year is. As you can see from the pictures I took above…this is what my street looks like right now..stunning!
Before recovery, most food addicts never took the time to appreciate nature or the beauty around them. Instead, each and every minute was filled with overwhelming thoughts about food. No matter how hard food addicts try or how much willpower they think they have, the obsession with food is always stronger.
Add to this, the physical addiction to sugar, flour, high fat, high salt, certain grains, or a combination of these, and it’s easy to see why it’s just not possible for a food addict to think about anything besides eating and food.
Once in recovery, food addicts are able to look around and appreciate the beauty in their lives. For many, connecting with nature provides a sense of peace and serenity that is unlike any other.
So, take a few minutes today to stand outside and breathe in the beauty around you! I know I’m going to!
Thursday, October 31st in both the U.S. and Canada, many people will celebrate Halloween. Traditionally, on the evening of this day, children go door to door dressed in costumes “trick or treating” to ask for candy.
Before recovery, buying candy for trick or treaters was one of many excuses food addicts used to binge. Many food addicts shopped for candy weeks before Halloween only to eat what was reserved as “treats” themselves. This meant buying more candy the next day and for some repeating this cycle many times before Halloween.
Once in recovery, food addicts learn that they have choices, one of which is whether or not to even take part in a holiday. The first step in making this decision is always to talk with a sponsor or professional who can help you to understand the best way for you to stay abstinent during what others may consider a special day.
Food addicts in recovery learn not to give too much importance to any one day especially if there is a danger of bingeing. Some food addicts are able to participate in holidays and if you’re one of these then it’s important to plan out how to stay abstinent.
For example, an Abstinent Halloween may mean handing out glow sticks, pencils, glider airplanes, stickers, bubbles, yoyos or bookmarks instead of candy. Or, it may mean forgoing the trick or treaters to celebrate in another way, perhaps watching a horror movie with a friend or curling up with a scary book. For me, celebrating Halloween means spending time with my niece Georgia (on the left sporting one of her many princess costumes.)
Whatever you decide, it’s important to stay true to what you need to remain abstinent.
October is National Wellness Month, a time to take inventory of our stress levels. While this is important for anyone, it’s especially crucial that food addicts in recovery learn to manage their stress. Stress is one of the biggest causes of relapse. This can be stress from financial situations, relationship issues, or work problems, among other things.
Before recovery, most food addicts managed their stress by overeating, which in turn created more stress both physically and emotionally. In recovery, managing stress is one of the life-skills that food addicts need to learn.
There’s plenty of information out there about how to manage stress – yoga, meditation, deep breathing, exercising, journaling, etc. Food addicts in recovery, however, have an amazing way to deal with their stress that they may not think about as a stress reducer – support from other food addicts.
Whether it’s going to a meeting, talking to a sponsor or fellow food addict in recovery or a professional, support from other food addicts is one of the greatest gifts ever. No matter how close a food addict is to someone, no one understands the feelings and emotions that go with this disease in the way another food addict does.
So, grab another food addict to talk or go to a meeting or contact your therapist and stress less this month!
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